Bloodworks Northwest officials are urging donors to help offset a critical shortage caused by a higher-than-expected summer drop.
With less than a day’s supply of vital type O blood on hand, Bloodworks Northwest has issued an urgent appeal for summer donors.
Vacations typically cause blood supplies to dip by 15 percent, but this year, they’re down by as much as 25 percent, according to David Larsen, spokesman for the Seattle-based agency.
It takes about 900 donors each day to maintain a sufficient supply of blood for more than 90 hospitals served by Bloodworks in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
The biggest need is for type-O blood. Nearly 40 percent of the local population has type-O-positive blood, and type O negative is considered a universal type, which may be transfused into any patient. A day’s supply is about 750 units of blood, Larsen said.
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Blood supplies are low across the U.S. as well as locally. The Orlando nightclub shooting and a demand for blood in Puerto Rico, where the Zika virus had contaminated the supply, may have contributed to the problem earlier this year.
To help bolster supplies, Bloodworks has called on reliable donors such as Chuck Colby, 60, of Bellevue, who has contributed about 100 gallons of whole blood and platelets during the past 25 years.
“Giving blood is such an unselfish act,” said Colby, a marine-insurance underwriter who volunteers at the blood centers. “You don’t even know who the recipient is going to be.”
People can donate whole blood every 56 days. Platelets, a blood component, can be donated every seven days, but not more than 24 times in a year. Blood plasma can be donated every 28 days, or up to 13 times a year.
Bloodworks has 12 donor centers. Or donors can check online at www.BloodworksNW.org for information about community blood drives. Appointments can be made online or by calling 1-800-398-7888.